Omicron BA.5 subvariant ‘most predominant’ in PH, PGC says

Published August 8, 2022, 12:37 PM

by Dhel Nazario

In the past month alone, Omicron subvariant BA.5 has been the “most predominant” sample sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), it said on Monday, Aug. 8.

Omicron variant of COVID-19 (MB FILE PHOTO)

During the Laging Handa public briefing, PGC Executive Director Dr. Cynthia P. Saloma stated that it was “anywhere above 85 percent” of the sequenced samples. According to Saloma, there are only a few cases of BA.2.3 which was the dominant one back in January this year.

As of August 5, DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said there were 95 new BA.5 cases detected. Of these cases, 67 were from Davao Region, 25 from Soccsksargen, and one case each from Northern Mindanao, Caraga, and the National Capital Region.

“We can probably say that this current wave is really the BA.5 wave in the country,” Saloma stated.

In line with this, she added that with the dominance of BA.5, they have recorded multiple cases of BA.5.2. She explained that in the United States and Europe what’s dominant is BA.5.1.

Currently, PGC has three facilities. The main office is in Diliman, Quezon City, another in PGC Visayas and in PGC Mindanao which all conducts whole genome sequencing.

In Diliman, Saloma said that they process 750 samples a week; 300 in Visayas, and 100 and Mindanao. PGC roughly sequences 1,100 to 1,200 cases weekly. The actual sequencing process lasts for 2 to 3 days. But according to her, from getting the samples up to releasing the results, it usually takes 5 to 6 days.

Meanwhile, she reported that there are no no new cases of BA.2.75. DOH reported last Aug. 2 two cases of Omicron subvariant BA.2.75 in the country. Vergeire said that these two cases were from Western Visayas.

She mentioned that this Omicron subvariant is also more transmissible than the original Omicron variant but there is no evidence that suggests that it is causing more severe disease.